75th and Final Post

Hi everyone!

These past two weeks have been very busy in Daytona Beach. After my last final on Tuesday, I only had a few days to pack everything in my apartment since I was moving out.  I needed to put all my stuff in my car and that was a challenge. I sold the larger furniture or else it would have been impossible to bring it all back to Canada.

Monday was the big day for myself and 702 other students from the Daytona Beach Campus. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Business Administration in three years!

The next day after graduation, I was already on my way to Canada. I had done this route very many times so I knew what to expect. I also knew that traffic in the Baltimore/Washington and New York City area can be really bad. This time, I decided to take a different route that was a bit more inland. Instead of following the East Coast and passing through large metropolitan areas, I would go through  smaller cities such as Columbia, Charlotte, Harrisburg and Syracuse. The trip was slightly longer in distance, but I saved time without being stuck in traffic for hours.

Long journey ahead!

I arrived in Montreal a few days ago and now I am preparing myself to start my journey at Air Canada at the end of May as Manager, Planning and Scheduling. I will work with the North American Network Planning team. I will plan and schedule flights more than one year ahead of the schedule is actually flown. I am excited because the new Boeing 737 MAX will enter service in October! Air Canada has ordered 61 of the type to replace its current aging narrow-body fleet.

As you saw in the title, this is my 75th and final blog post as a student blogger. Whether I was sharing with you my study tips for finals or I was talking about my numerous trips around the world, I hope you enjoyed reading my blogs for these past two years! This is my last entry as an official blogger, but you might find me in the Alumni section from time to time.

Have a great summer!

Nicolas

Spring Break in the Mountains

Hey all!

Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada

For the second part of Spring Break, my family and I went to ski for a few days in Mont-Tremblant, which is just a bit over 80 miles north-west of Montreal. I believe it was time to something else in the snow after shovelling snow for a few days due to Winter Storm Stella. I had already been to this skiing resort when I was younger.

I think it is my favorite mountain on the East side of North America. It is not comparable to the height of the Canadian Rockies or Colorado in the West, but it is a great mountain. The village is awesome and you have the feeling of being in Vail or Whistler.

Beautiful sunset over the Mont-Tremblant village just after our arrival at the hotel.

Beautiful sunset over the Mont-Tremblant village just after our arrival to the hotel.

The village has all sorts of restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, boutiques and ski equipment stores. While we were there, it was also Spring Break for many high schools and universities in Ontario. I felt like I was in the United States since I was only listening to people talking in English.

The village during day time.

The village during daytime.

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The village at the bottom of the slopes becomes lively in the afternoon.

The Fairmont Tremblant is right by the slopes and is "ski-in ski-out."

The Fairmont Tremblant is right by the slopes and is “ski-in ski-out.”

Even though Mont-Tremblant is mostly a winter seasonal destination, I heard many tourists come visit in the summer. There are many activities to do in the warmer months of the year such as golf, mountain biking, wall climbing and hiking. The is also a lake where you can  fish, go canoeing and kayaking. I have not been in the summer but I hope to do so next summer!

If you want to visit Mont-Tremblant, you can either fly to Montreal (YUL) and drive to the resort, or you can fly directly to YTM seasonally via Montreal, Toronto-Pearson (YYZ) or Toronto City (YTZ).

Until next time!

Nicolas

Spring Break with my Friend Stella

Hi all!

As I mentioned in my last post, the northeast of Canada and the United States received a lot of snow at the beginning of last week. Winter Storm Stella cancelled and delayed thousands of flights while airlines and airports were working on reestablishing operations. I spent the first part of the week home, in Montreal.

The winter storm arrived on Tuesday but snow continued to fall until Wednesday. I basically shoveled snow for three days in a row. On Tuesday afternoon, my mom and I tried to take the car to go buy salt at the store. We wanted to melt the snow in the driveway which is in a hill. It never happened since we didn’t even pass the first stop sign on our street. The car got stuck in the street that was covered with snow. After a few minutes, we just decided to go back home as the streets downtown would be slippery and narrow due to the snow. The snow on our street eventually got removed a few days later.

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The snow plow truck pushed the snow on the sides of the streets making walls of heavy snow. The snow blocked the sidewalks and the entrance to my house.

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We weren’t able to even pass the stop sign with the car because the ice and snow between the car’s tires and the asphalt was making the car slip to the right of the street in the snow walls.

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Snow piles make the streets in the city very narrow.

I remember when I was a kid that I always loved snow storms. I’m sure you have an idea why? Because schools sometimes closed due to the snow fall! But that rarely happened as school only cancelled once or twice per year. In Canada compared to some parts in the United States, it has to snow a lot to make classes cancelled for the day. A few inches of snow won’t make you stay home for sure!

And you, what did you do for spring break? Did you go skiing or did you enjoy the beach and the sun in the south? In my next post, I’ll talk about what I did for the rest of the week. Hint: it involves a mountain!

Nicolas

Winter Storm Stella – Travel Tips

As some you know, Winter Storm Stella has made its way to the northeast of the United States and Canada. It is the worst snow storm of the season and some areas got up to three feet of snow! The worst of the blizzard came yesterday but it is still snowing here where I am in Montreal, Canada. According to FlightAware, close to 6,500 flights were cancelled by U.S. airlines yesterday. Today (Wednesday), flight operations are getting back to normal slowly but there are still 1,000 cancellations and more than 3,000 flights delayed.

Checkout the video above and learn how airports remove snow on taxiways, runways and other movement areas!

Thousands of airport and airline employees are working very hard and doing their best in order to get passengers safely and as quickly as possible to their final destination. If you are flying in the next few days, look at your flight status before heading to the airport. Your flight(s) might have been delayed or cancelled.

If you flight is delayed or cancelled, stay calm and be patient. Do not be angry at the airport customer service employees. Airlines and are not responsible for weather related delays. The employees are just trying to help passengers to get to their destination. I doubt that they will be willing to help you more if you shout at them!

Airlines are receiving more calls than usual during this period so the wait time will be very long. Your best bet might be to try to contact the airline via social media, such as Twitter. They might be able to assist you. Once your flight has been cancelled, some airlines have a system that automatically rebooks you to the next available flight.

If you don’t have to go anywhere, just stay home and stay away from streets as some of them are still covered with ice and snow.

Until next time!

Nicolas

President’s Day Weekend

Approaching Toronto-Pearson International Airport on a beautiful Saturday around noon.

Approaching Toronto-Pearson International Airport on a beautiful Saturday morning.

During the President’s Day weekend, I flew back home to Montreal to see my parents and some friends. In some parts of Canada, some people also got to enjoy an extra day off due to Family Day.

I left Florida early Saturday morning just before 07:00AM instead of Friday, since I have an evening Biology lab that ends at 8:45PM. At that time, it is too late to catch a flight, unfortunately.

I arrived in Montreal around noon after I had a connecting flight through Toronto-Pearson. I texted my mom earlier in the day and asked her to bring my winter coat. When I got out the plane, I didn’t even need it since it felt actually warm for winter. It was about 45 degrees and there were no clouds in the skies. I guess I picked the right weekend to visit!

My aunt was also in town for a business trip so we had a family dinner in the evening. The next day, I met with a friend who is currently applying for college. I tried the best I could to convince him to come to Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Like me, he is also an “avgeek” so I told him ERAU was a perfect place to study aviation. Hopefully, he’ll come for a visit and see for himself.

Overall, it was a fun relaxing weekend and I already look forward for Spring Break!

Nicolas

My Favorite Moments of October

The month of October is almost over and we are now beginning the last phase of the fall semester. Not counting the three days off for Thanksgiving, students have about a month left of actual classes. I will conclude my last blog of the month by saying why it is one of my favorite month of the year.

Industry Career/Expo
Even though the event did not occur due to reasons we all know, it has been in the past an event with great excitement. I like to go hunt for jobs and internships. I enjoy talking with employers about what they have to offer. The career fair is now reported to the spring semester on March 1, 2017 from 09:00 to 16:00 at the ICI Center. Check the Career Services website for updates on company information sessions and the list of employers.

Fall Break
During the four days break including the weekend, I usually go back home to Canada to see my family and friends. I like to see the leaves in the trees change colors. It’s just beautiful! This is something that does not happen in Florida.

algonquin-park-autumnNHL Start of the Season (Hockey)
The 2016-17 hockey season started during the first week of the month. During fall break, I had the chance to attend the second home game of the Montreal Canadiens. We defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. Last year, we did not clinched for the playoffs but hopefully this year we will go far. I look forward to this new season!

MLS Playoffs (Soccer)
The end of the month of October marks the end of the MLS regular season, which means that the playoffs start! My team (Montreal Impact) finished 5th place of the Eastern Conference during the 2016 season. They are playing a knockout round against D.C. United tomorrow (10/27). Hockey has always been the most popular sport in Montreal, but  soccer is catching up slowly beating football.

Until next time!

Nicolas

Network Planning Internship Wrap-Up

Today is my last day as a Network Planning Intern at Air Canada. I started the internship at the beginning of May after my spring semester at Embry-Riddle. I will give a brief summary of my amazing experience.

Boeing 787-9 (Photo Credits: Air Canada)

Boeing 787-9 taking off at Toronto-Pearson International Airport (Credits: Air Canada)

Aircraft Programs
I began my first two weeks with the Aircraft Programs group. For the first week, I shadowed an aircraft program manager while he was performing his duties of post-delivery activities at an MRO (maintenance, repair, and overhaul) close to Montreal. The airline had just received a brand new Boeing 777-300ER (77W). I tested the seats, tray tables, IFE (inflight entertainment), reading lights, and various galley compartments. The aircraft entered into commercial service a few weeks after.

Economy section of an Air Canada B777-300ER

Economy section of an Air Canada B777-300ER

The second week was very exciting as it was my first business trip. I travelled all the way to Seattle because Air Canada was going to take delivery of its 19th and last 77W. I met with the same aircraft program manager at the Boeing Everett Factory. During the first few days, we tested the systems in the aircraft, a bit similar to what we did the previous week in Montreal. We were looking for any defect the plane had before it would be handed off to Air Canada.

Chicken or pasta was served as the main course on the flight to Seattle.

Chicken or pasta was served as the main course on the flight to Seattle (Credits: Author)

My last day in the state of Washington was probably the best. I had the opportunity to fly on the jump seat of the aircraft that was going to be delivered to us the next day. The flight had a duration of about 2h45 and included a touch-and-go and a go-around at Moses Lake (KMWH). Many tests were performed by the flight crew and by mechanics and engineers throughout the flight. The pilots extended the flaps and the slats during the flight. The speed brakes were also deployed for a short period.

Flight path of the aircraft (C-FKAU) via FlightRadar24

Flight path of the aircraft (C-FKAU) via FlightRadar24.

I really enjoyed my week at Boeing Everett Factory. I would like to come back to Seattle soon as I did not have the time to truly visit the Emerald City. I learned a lot about Aircraft Programs in the short two weeks I spent with them.

Network Planning
Right after I returned from my trip to the West Coast, I started working in Network Planning. I was part of the long-range team that planned the flight schedule about a year before it is actually flown. I assisted in planning the schedule for North America, which includes Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Network Planning works closely with other departments such as Intermediate Scheduling, Aircraft Programs, and Revenue Management.

Route Map from Air Canada's largest hub, Toronto-Pearson.

Route Map from Air Canada’s largest hub, Toronto-Pearson.

Before I started my internship, I did not know all the items that are taken into account when scheduling a flight. We need to take into consideration aircraft maintenance, turnaround times, flight connectivity at hubs, ideal departure times, flight crew duty time and aircraft types. Our team also analyzes past performance to see if we should add frequencies or put a larger aircraft on a route.

Besides planning future flights, Network Planning consists of expanding the airline’s route network. I had the chance to sit with a few co-workers as they explained me how an airlines evaluate new route opportunities. In one month this summer, we introduced 10 new international routes to Europe, Asia, and Africa. Since May, Air Canada launched 11 routes to the United States.

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On June 3, Air Canada launched non-stop service between Montreal and Casablanca (Credits: Air Canada)

I really enjoyed the time I spent this summer in Network Planning. Air Canada has a great team of passionate and energetic aviation enthusiasts. I am proud and honored to have been able to play a small role in planning the schedule for the upcoming seasons.

Summary
I am proud and happy I got the opportunity to get a summer internship at an airline in the aircraft programs and network planning department. This is my second summer in a row doing an internship. Last summer, I worked as an intern in the finance department at Aéroports de Montréal, the authority that manages the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport. So far, I got to experience both the airport industry and the airline industry. After experiencing both, I can definitely say that I belong to the airlines.

Last year on this same day, August 3, I said in my blog: “Now that I have experienced a job in an airport, I would like to go work at an airline in the near future. We’ll see what happens next!” My wish has come true this summer! Next year after I graduate from Embry-Riddle with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Business Administration, I wish to go work full-time at an airline. In about nine months, we will see if my dream can be fulfilled for a second time!

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

Delivery of the First Bombardier CSeries Aircraft to Swiss

MIRABEL, QC –  Last Thursday, Swiss departed Canada for Zurich with a brand new Bombardier CS100 aircraft. Swiss is the launch customer of the CSeries. I had the chance to be present at the delivery ceremony on Wednesday. During the afternoon, there was a CSeries flight for the media, as well as a factory tour of the final assembly line.

Bombardier CSeries FTV5 featuring the Swiss livery.

Bombardier CSeries FTV5 featuring the Swiss livery.

This was the second time I boarded the aircraft, but it was the first time I was going to be on a flight. I saw the aircraft for the first time back in December 2015 during the certification event. I enjoyed the plane’s wide cabin and seat configuration (3-2). Instead of having two middle seats on each row like on the A320s and B737s, there is only one in each row of the CSeries. I also like the large windows which are 50% larger than the A320.

My boarding pass for the flight!

My boarding pass for the flight!

I was really excited to be flying the CSeries for the first time. Bombardier offered a short flight on one of their test aircraft (FTV5) for the 80 medias present. The flight crew announced to the passengers that they would fly over Mont Tremblant and come back and land at Mirabel. The crew planned an altitude of 16,000 ft. to Mont Tremblant and a lower altitude of 10,000 ft.on the way back to Mirabel. The whole flight would take approximately 45 minutes.

Inflight at 16,000ft.

What a beautiful view at 16,000 ft!

Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engine.

Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engine.

I was seated in 18A by the window, just behind the wing of the aircraft. From my seat, I had a great view of outside the aircraft. As we taxied to the active runway, I thought the engine was pretty quiet compared to other aircraft of similar size. It only took a few seconds and only 2,400 ft. of runway before we lifted off the ground. A few minutes later, the flight crew turned off the seat belt sign as the aircraft leveled at its short cruising altitude of 16,000 ft. Many passengers rushed in the aisle for pictures and interviews. The aisle was very busy during the flight as many folks wanted to explore the aircraft from nose to tail. The two flight attendants served the passengers a bottle of water and bags of candies for this short 45 minute flight.

Speedbrakes up for landing!

Speedbrakes up for landing!

My first flight on the CSeries and my first customer delivery flight on Air Canada’s last Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to be delivered are two amazing experiences I will never forget.

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

Life in Network Planning

In my last blog, I talked about my summer internship in Network Planning. In this post, I will describe important terms that we use in our department. These terms are  also commonly used in the world of aviation!

Boeing 787-9 (Photo Credits: Air Canada)

Boeing 787-9 (Photo Credits: Air Canada)

Maintenance
Each of the 380 aircraft if our fleet has to undergo different types of maintenance that needs to be performed in order to be airworthy. It can range from simple line maintenance to complex heavy maintenance where the airplane is almost taken completely apart. Air Canada does the overnight maintenance in-house but the other larger maintenance checks are outsourced in other countries around the world. In Network Planning, we have to make sure that we pull out the necessary number of aircraft out of the fleet so it can go to maintenance.

Turnaround Times
Turnaround time is the period of time from when an aircraft arrives at the gate of a station (airport) to the time the aircraft is ready to depart from the gate for another flight. The turnaround time usually depends on the type of aircraft that is being handled on the ground. Fueling, catering, baggage and passengers loading/unloading is done during this time. Our smallest aircraft, the Beechcraft 1900D needs 20 minutes to turnaround. On the other side, our Boeing 777-300ER needs more than 120 minutes of minimum ground time. For airlines, it is important for their aircraft to be on the ground for the shortest amount of time possible. The more the aircraft is the air, the more they can generate revenue.

Connectivity
Most airlines have one or more hubs where they operate most of their flights. Air Canada’s largest hub is Toronto-Pearson. Our job in Network Planning is to ensure that most passenger will be able to go to the destination of their choice in our route network. For example, if you are flying out of Daytona Beach International Airport, your only options is to either fly to Atlanta, Charlotte, or New York-JFK. At these airports, the flights are timed to allow passengers to connect to another flight to eventually bring them to their final destination.

Departure Times
Some of our flights have an optimal departure time for local traffic while other flights are timed for connectivity. Air Canada flies between Montreal and Toronto at every hour during weekdays and even at every 30 minutes during peak hours. When we operate more than one daily flight per day to a city, we usually spread the flights throughout the day. Business travelers usually enjoy taking a flight early in the morning and return at the end of the day after their meetings.

Aircraft Types
Aircraft limitations are taken into account when we assign a plane to a route. For example a 70-seater regional jet cannot fly from North America to Europe because it simply does not have the range to do such missions. We fly the Airbus A319 to Mexico City (7,300 ft. of elevation) because this aircraft performs well at high temperatures and high altitudes.

Passenger Load Factor
The passenger load factor (PLF) can be described as “how full is the plane in terms of seats occupied.” The load factor can be calculated by dividing the RPMs by the ASMs on a particular route or for the whole network. You can also calculate the PLF by dividing the number of revenue passengers onboard by the number of available seats on the aircraft.

You are now an aviation expert! If you are interested in Network Planning, you should definitely take the Airline Management (BA 315) class on campus. This course is very interesting if you are an aviation passionate like me.

If you have any questions or comments regarding my internship, you can reach me at the email address listed below. I will be happy and glad to answer your questions!

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

Summer Internship: What is Network Planning?

Hello everyone!

I hope you guys are enjoying your summer. It has now been three weeks since I have been working Air Canada in Network Planning as a summer intern. I will take this time to explain a bit more on what I do at work. I am part of the team that plans the flight schedule about a year before departure. We are currently planning the schedule for 2017. Below is an overview of how the schedule is handled from the time it is built to the time the flights occur for real.

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  1. Network Planning (9 months and more)
  2. Intermediate Scheduling (9 months to 3 months)
  3. Current Scheduling (3 months to 48 hours)
  4. System Operations Control (48 hours to time of departure)

Network Planning makes the schedule about a year before the flight. The schedule will then be handed off to Intermediate Scheduling where they will make the flight schedule more operational. They take more components into account such as airport slots, gate availability, and much more. The schedule is then given to current scheduling around 3 months before the flight will takeoff. SOC or System Operations Control manages the schedule in real time. For example, if your flight is delayed because of a maintenance issue that cannot be fixed in a reasonable amount of time, they will be the one who will try to find an aircraft in the fleet as a replacement so the passengers can get to their final destination.

I work in Network Planning and my main job is to build the schedule for North America. We have three groups in Network Planning: North America, International, and Profitability. We closely work with other groups like Intermediate Scheduling, Aircraft Programs, and Revenue Management. When we schedule a flight, our team needs to take into consideration aircraft maintenance, aircraft turnaround time, flight connectivity at major hubs, ideal departure times, flight crew duty time, aircraft types, passenger load factor, yields, etc. These will be described in my next blog!

Route Map from Air Canada's largest hub, Toronto-Pearson.

Route Map from Air Canada’s largest hub, Toronto-Pearson.

We fly to 205 destinations including 64 in Canada, 55 in the United States, and 86 in Europe, Africa, the Middle-East, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Air Canada and its regional partners fly an average of 1,500 daily flights and operate a fleet of more than 380 mainline and regional aircraft.

Our Boeing 777-300ER seats 450 seats.

Our largest aircraft, the Boeing 777-300ER (77W) has up to 450 seats. (Photo Credits: Jen Schulz)

Our smallest aircraft, the Beechcraft 1900D seats a maximum of 18 guests. (Photo Credits: Author)

Our smallest aircraft, the Beechcraft 1900D (BEH) seats a maximum of 18 guests. (Photo Credits: Author)

There is a lot of complexity in trying to build the best schedule we can for 1,500 daily departures. Flights do not have the same pattern for a whole year. We operate flights that are daily and some that we only fly a few times a week. Some flights operate year-round while others are only winter or summer seasonal.

We also look at past performance of the schedule to see if we should increase frequencies on certain routes or even pull back completely. We identify new markets where we could potentially grow in the future. Some of the new routes we are currently looking at are… You will have to wait until we announce new destinations!

I am proud and honored to be part of a family of 28,000 men and women who work together to bring our guests safely and on-time to their final destination.

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu